Bill Clinton Glosses Over Obama Statement, Makes Clear His Love for Rural America

Apr 12, 2008 10:21pm

ABC News’ Sarah Amos reports: Former President Clinton has never been shy about proclaiming his love for rural America. He has spent a majority of the election visting the type of small towns usually skipped over by a presidential campaign. He has been to an airport hangar in Abilene, Texas, an expo hall in Eureka, Calif., and countless small town high school gyms in between.

At a recent event in Indiana he went so far as to call himself a "rural hitman."

But today, as the Clinton campaign launched a full court press against Sen. Barack Obama’s comments about rural America, the former president has stayed uncharacteristically quiet.

Clinton made no mention of Obama’s comments at his early events, leaving that job to rural North Carolina native and Clinton supporter Tom Hendrickson.

Clinton’s first mention of the incident came at his sixth and final stop of the night at a Legion Hall in Jacksonville, N.C.

"Yesterday, Hillary’s opponent got into a little bit of trouble by making some comment — you may have seen it," the former president said. "But the thing that has got me is one more time their side alleged that there was really not much difference how working people fared under me and under the Bush administration. Now if you believe that, I urge you to vote against Hillary."

The mention was so quick that many in the audience seemed to not even really register what he was talking about.

But while Obama may not have been a talking point at every stop today, Clinton’s love for rural America certainly was.

"She would not be here today but for rural America. In Missouri, 109 of the 114 counties voted for her. In Arkansas, 72 of 75 counties. In Texas, 230 of 254 counties. A sweep in the rural areas of Ohio," Clinton told a crowd in New Bern, N.C., early this evening.

Clinton went on to talk about rural America’s role as the backbone of America and how the caucuses, which have been won mainly by Obama, target upscale voters.

"In February, when she lost all these caucus states — which favor upscale voters and people with more free time and are less democratic — they are, right? [Cheers] — you get one convention delegate for every 2,000 caucus-goers, one convention delegate for every almost 11,000 voters. They are. And all of a sudden, all over America, working people, men and women, in small towns and rural areas, who’d never given a nickel over the Internet, over 300,000 of them sent her $30 million so this campaign could go on. I will never forget that," Clinton said.

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